The wolf

Wolves have had a bad press over the years. Think of Little Red Riding Hood, The Three Little Pigs, The Wolf and the Seven Little Kids. There are others, too. I’m unsure why this is, except that wolves were probably the main enemy when humans first began to domesticate other animals like sheep, cattle, goats and pigs.

These animals would be seen, by wolves, as easy prey, being corralled and unable to escape easily, thus the humans began to look on the wolf as an enemy.

Wolves do not normally attack humans. They are aware of how dangerous people can be. They will only usually attack if they feel threatened, or are starving.

Of course, another thing that makes me think (and this is a personal view) that wolves were not considered to be too dangerous by our distant ancestors is that they were domesticated. Our modern dogs are descended from wolves. People did not decide to domesticate such creatures as lions or bears.

Wolves live a family group known as a pack. In the pack there is one wolf who is the leader. He is known as the Alpha Male and is the only one allowed to mate. He mates with the Alpha Female, although there is often only one female in the pack.

There is a hierarchy in the pack. There is a beta wolf who comes after the alpha. He will take over the position of the alpha when the alpha dies. Sometimes he will fight the alpha and gain the position that way.

The lowliest wolf is called the omega wolf. The other subordinate wolves are below the beta and above the omega wolf. Often they have climbed up the hierarchy by fighting those above them.
The alpha male is the first one to feed after a kill. When he has finished, the beta feeds, and the omega is the last. If there are weaned cubs, they feed first.

Wolves communicate through howls. They will howl to others in their pack through affection. They also howl to indicate their whereabouts or to tell other packs that this is their territory. A howl can travel for 10 miles if the territory is right. The sound of howling wolves will send a shiver down the spine of most people. It is a wonderful and evocative sound.

During the hunt, wolves will track their prey. They prefer animals like Elk or caribou, Although they will take other large creatures like bison. A bison, though, is a dangerous creature to tackle.

Some smaller and more agile wolves will herd the prey animals. The pack will often chase their prey over many miles during which time they choose the animal they want. It will often be a sick or old creature, or a youngster.

Young wolves will often hang around watching and learning rather than taking an active part in the hunt, then, when they are old enough they know what to do.

Wolves play an important part in the ecology of an area. They help to preserve the genetic viability of the prey animals by taking those less fit. They also help prevent the prey animals from over-running an area and decimating the vegetation.

They look after their own and are gentle and loving. I suspect it’s this quality that attracted our ancestors as well as their observations as to how they hunt.

In my books, The Wolves of Vimar series, the group of friends takes the name of Wolf after they find a poem and see a wolf pack interacting.

Here is the poem:

The wolves will fight ’gainst every foe
The balance to maintain.
Though far and wide the pack must go
All borders they disdain.

“The pack contains the strangest group
One whose pride comes with her,
And one who slips through every loop,
The wilful one, the tracker.

“The leader with his anger held,
The ones who hunt the horse.
The rock that’s strong completes the meld
And makes the pack a force.

“The wolf pack’s members are filled with zest
And all do have their place.
They hunt their foes with ruthlessness
Then vanish without trace.

“In times of danger, all must know
The wolf pack will be there.
They work as one; they keep their vow.
For each other they will care.”

Next week I’ll post an excerpt from Book 1, The Wolf Pack, but if you can’t contain your excitement until then, follow the link, or click on the book cover in the sidebar to go to Amazon where you are and pick up your copy.

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